“Don’t you just love New York in the fall”

It was a very long train journey from Niagara Falls to Manhattan, as we knew it would be. But it was fabulous, the train wasn’t too busy so we had a double seat each so we could spread out all our paraphernalia needed to keep us occupied for 9 hours. We had breakfast and lunch from the buffet car and once the sun came up we were treated to a variety of views along the way.

It was not our first visit to New York City, we first visited in March 2002 with my 2 sons and I returned in November 2003 for a 2 girlie trip with two friends. So we could spent the next 2 days mooching around and not having to stand in line at the usual tourist attractions.

This amazing city is the location of one of my favourite films “You’ve got mail”, in case you haven’t seen it the main characters Kathleen and Joe, played by Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, are online friends who are unaware that they are book shop rivals in the real world. Joe puts Kathleen out of business when he opens up his book superstore, but in the end all is well and they get together and live happily ever after.

As we were staying in a lovely boutique hotel, The Belnord, in the Upper West Side we were well placed to visit the places used in the filming. Our first stop after unpacking was Café Lalo for a spot of dinner and cake. This is where Kathleen and Joe meet on their blind date. It’s a fabulously quirky café which has a very cosy feel with a relaxing atmosphere.  Next stop was Zabar’s supermarket, where Kathleen got into a bit of a pickle in a cash only line with a credit card. This shop is amazing, filled to the rafters with tasty goodies, we got a supply of munchies to see us through the last couple of days of our North American adventures.

On our last day we also visited Riverside park to see the place where Joe and Kathleen eventually meet properly at the end of the film.


I am a big fan of Sex in the City which is also filmed on location in New York City, so after a hearty breakfast at Alice’s Tea cup we went in search of the Magnolia bakery where the girls bought their cup cakes. This shop is a beautiful delight of cake heaven and it’s almost impossible to choose a favourite, we bought a couple to eat later after a wander around the places we missed on our previous visits. I did want to get a photo on the bench outside the shop, a la Carrie and Miranda, but someone was sat on it and showed no sign of moving anytime soon.


Before we sat down to enjoy the cakes we managed to work our way through our list of places we wanted to see; The Dakota Building, The New York public Library, Grand Central Station and The Chrysler Building. We had a pit stop in a little park to eat our fabulous cakes before picking up the High line and walked all the way down to the West 20th exit to visit Kleinfeld Bridal Shop of “Say yes to the dress” fame for a little peak.

I loved this day of wandering around in the beautiful sunshine, because we had no rush to get anywhere and no queues to wait in and no tickets to buy. We were able to take in the beauty of the architecture and the amazing mix of old and new.



Niagara in the Fall

We had a lovely brunch and one last mooch in some shops in Toronto before getting the bus. It was a relatively short trip to Niagara, in just over an hour we were at the bus station hailing a taxi to our hotel.

The following day, after an amazing All you can eat breakfast we made our way towards the incredibly loud roar of the falls. But nothing could have prepared me for the breathtaking sight of the American and Horseshoe falls.

On the walk up to the main hub and visitor centre to get a closer look, we came across a statue of Nikola Tesla. I knew he was the inventor of alternating current (AC) electricity, but I didn’t know about his connection to this area. In 1895, along with George Westinghouse, he built the first hydroelectrical  power plant in Niagara Falls. The statue on the Canadian side was unveiled in 2006.


True to form I found myself in a tunnel, a very soggy walk down a path behind the Horseshoe falls, resulted in a very wet experience at the end out on an open platform at the foot of the falls.

But that was nowhere near as wet and wild as the boat trip right up to the mouth of the falls. I tried my very best to film the experience, but there was no way I could hold my phone and trying to keep my balance while being thrown around the boat and pelted by gallons of water. But what an experience and it was made much better because a lot of our fellow passengers were Italian and they were very animated at every thrilling moment.

As with every location on this trip we needed to get up high, so we took a ride up the Skylon Tower to have a gander at the magnificent view from above the spectacular falls.

The wonderful end to this fabulous day was the magical light show on both the falls that was just stunning.


We had a very early start in the morning to catch the 6.30am train to Manhattan.

Now for the important part for anyone staying on the Canadian side needing to travel to the American side…….

Allow more time than you think you need and make it absolutely clear that you need to cross the Rainbow bridge and the US border. This is our experience; When I booked the taxi I definitely said we needed to cross the border, but the first 2 taxi drivers refused to take us, the second driver was particularly rude and shouted abuse at me as he drove off. Thankfully the third driver was amazing, he was very friendly and incredibly patient at the border. Be prepared to be in the office for about 15 – 20 minutes being asked questions and fingerprinted. But a couple of stamps in our passports later and we were on our way to the Amtrak station with 5 minutes to spare.

Next stop The Big Apple